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Turkey Must End Isolation of Öcalan and Restart Peace Process - Cortes

1 March 2019

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has warned the Turkish government it must address the plight of Kurdish leaders and restart the peace process to avert violence and deaths of hunger strikers.

Cortes was speaking as a member of a recent peace delegation (11th to 16th Feb) to the region which has unveiled its full findings into the trip which was marked by stories and evidence of human and workers’ rights abuses.

The delegation - comprised of politicians, academics, trade unionists, and public figures - tried to meet imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is held in isolation on ?mral? Island Prison.

The delegation succeeded in meeting Leyla Güven, the MP who, along with more than 300 others around the world, is on indefinite hunger strike demanding an end to the terrible isolation conditions endured by Öcalan and to draw attention to the plight of the Kurdish people.

Five members of the delegation outlined their findings and explained the steps they’d like to see taken at home and abroad.

Manuel Cortes told the media briefing: “The key to unlocking lasting peace between its Kurdish minority and the rest of Turkey is to free Öcalan. Clearly no-one wants this conflict to continue.

“It’s now time for Erdo?an to make sure Turkey ends the isolation of Öcalan and restarts peace talks. If any of the hunger strikers die their blood will be on Erdo?an’s hands and that of his terrible regime.”

Maxine Peake said: “I want Öcalan to know people are there, that no one has forgotten him and that strides are being made throughout the global community to get him free.

“I hope we can spread the message because this is an issue which is being ignored on a European and global level. People have no knowledge that over there a Member of Parliament (Leyla Güven) can be on hunger strike.”

Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union, said: “It’s important that the unions in this country get behind this campaign. Öcalan is a political prisoner in our view and the Mandela of the Middle East. It’s time we got the mainstream media to understand how serious this is.”

Members of the delegation attending the press conference – Friday 1st March at TSSA HQ in London were as follows:

*Manuel Cortes – General Secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) trade union (UK).

*Maxine Peake – Actress, director, and playwright; Vice President of The Marx Memorial Library, London.

*Tony Burke – Assistant General Secretary, Unite the union (UK and Ireland).

*Paul Scholey – partner of Morrish Solicitors LLP, the leading trade union law firm in the UK.

*Connor Hayes – Student of Philosophy

 

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